"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."
-Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or)
Not here at Food and Fermentation. We try to savor every moment, bite, and sip of the delicious food and brew that comes across our path. The post for today is one that I've actually been meaning to write up for a week or two now and it looks at an awesome collaboration between the Hill Farmstead Brewery and Cigar City Brewing. A while back, these two breweries got together to brew a pair of beers named Either and Or, which are two huge Black IPA's that clock in at 11.2% ABV. Pretty sweet. Anyways, the names actually come from Kierkegaard's 1843 work, Either/Or, which focuses on both the aesthetic and ethical life styles, but ultimately finds both flawed and suggests religion as the most fulfilling path. Whether you agree with Kierkegaard's conclusions or not, most of his works are fairly enlightening reads, especially if you have a sweet spot for philosophy.
Having graduated from St. Olaf College, which has about 11,000 book volumes of work revolving around Kierkegaard in the St. Olaf Kierkegaard library, I have had some decent exposure to his work. However, I personally find Camus' existentialist thoughts to be more in line with my own thinking than Kierkegaard's, even though some find Camus to be more of a novelist than a philosopher. Either way, both authors spark some interesting conversation, especially when paired with a well crafted beer(s), and what better beers to get the mental juices flowing than the Either and Or pair.
Both beers pour essentially black, but after swirling the glass a bit, Or delivers a much stronger hop punch on the nose than Either. Further inspection of the aroma pulls out some roasty dark malts and the sweet addition of Ty Ty honey. The taste, however, is the highlight, at least for Or. Both beers were aged on cedar, which is a pretty interesting addition, considering that 99% of beers that are aged on wood, are aged on oak. The cedar, especially in Or, melded perfectly with the earthy/grassy hop notes, giving the beer another dimension filled with tasty, toasted, cedar wood.
Or was definitely the highlight for both Jen and I, but Either was quite good as well. The only downside to Either was that it dropped the hop profile of Or and instead focused on the sweeter side of things. This lead to a muddled and somewhat cloying end to the beer, but in the general scheme of things it still provided a malty and complex brew that was fun to drink. Overall, these were two interesting beers and I would definitely pick up another bottle of Or if I had access to it. Hopefully Cigar City and The Hill Farmstead team up for another collaboration in the future. Both breweries are brewing some pretty amazing beers and you should definitely check them out if you haven't already. In meantime, pick up some Camus and a good beer. The combination is excellent.